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Close all universities down for an appropriate amount of time amidst COVID-19

Submitted by yesmin attal on Friday 6th March 2020

Published on Wednesday 11th March 2020

Current status: Closed

Closed: Friday 11th September 2020

Signatures: 123,903

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

Covid ~ Covid-19 ~ The Government ~ Universities

Petition Action

Close all universities down for an appropriate amount of time amidst COVID-19

Petition Details

We would like the government to to consider closing universities down in the coming weeks or as soon as possible, in addition to taking necessary actions to prevent further spread

Additional Information

To prevent the spread of COVID-19


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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Tuesday 24th March 2020

The Government’s number one priority is the safety of students and staff. The DfE is working with universities to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, based on guidance from Public Health England.

The Government’s number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of students and staff. We will also do all we can to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the higher education (HE) sector.

On 18 March, the Prime Minister and Education Secretary announced changes to the operational models of schools and colleges in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These changes show how much we need to ratchet up social distancing measures to deal with the outbreak.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting HE providers to remain open, as long as expert medical advice supports this. It is doing all it can to support the HE sector and its students, including encouraging them to make online teaching provision as widespread as possible for the summer term, in compliance with social distancing guidance.

Cessation of face-to-face teaching in favour of online provision is not closure. It is a move that enables compliance with social distancing guidance. We will continue to work with the sector to understand the developing range of options for distance teaching and learning and ensure that we support students where necessary.

Any decision to close universities would be based on careful consideration of multiple factors. In any eventuality, a significant number of students may be care leavers, students who are estranged from their families, and international students for whom alternative accommodation is not easily available or who are not able to get home because of travel restrictions. It is essential that these students are reassured that their provider will continue to support them through these difficult and unsettling times. Students who remain in campus accommodation will also need additional support, including access to counselling and mental health advice.

The Department for Education (DfE) stands ready to support providers in any discussion that is needed to ensure that they have access to the right resources to care for students. The Chancellor has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19.

Department for Education.

Parliamentary Debate

This petition has reached the threshold for a Parliamentary debate, but the debate has not been held. The Petitions Committee gave the following explanation.

Because it has not been possible to debate this petition to date, and the issues raised by this petition have been considered by the Committee in other ways, the Committee has agreed not schedule this petition for debate.

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